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FIRST LOOK: Camelbak Skirmish

This isn't a new pack. It's been out for several months now but this is the first time I've been able to fingerbang it — and I'm glad I did. Turns out the lumbar support system they've been touting really is every bit as good as they say. Maybe better.

Camelbak may be best known for their hydration systems but they also make great packs. I've used one (well, two) for years. Though I've tried and liked some other great packs from different manufacturers, I've never gotten rid of Camelbaks. There's a reason for that. Granted my personal experience might not be a scientifically noteworthy market sample, but there's something to be said for gear that lasts so long the only reason to replace it is you just want to.

Eyes On Camelbak 100OZ Skirmish3

My first Camelbak was a HAWG, when they first came out and used the hell out of it, including a trip up Mt. Rainier — still have it in fact, though it's languishing unused in a box. My second was…honestly I don't know what it was. Whatever the hell this thing is below. I've had it for so long I don't remember, have deployed with it and hiked with it and dragged too much crap around with it, but as you can still it's still carrying gear. It's now a Frankenbag and my son hauls his range stuff in it.

Old Camelbak Pack 2

Old Camelbak Pack 1

Old Camelbak Pack

The 3 images above are an older Camelbak pack I think is at least a decade and a half old.

The lumbar support is immediately noticeable when you throw the Skirmish on. Doubly so if you're a broke-dick like me with metal plates and a bunch of scar tissue in your spine. I'd have to say at least initially this is the most comfortable pack (of this size and type) I've worn to date. The Lumbar Reservoir (q.v.) puts the water weight down low, so it's spread-loaded across your hips, and the contour make it easy to carry heavy or cumbersome loads without the same difficulty you'd get from an unformed or unreinforced pack. The primary compartment clamshells open for easier access, there's a bottom zipper for access to the main compartment from down below and the obligatory fields of MOLLE/PALS give you plenty of real estate to add modular expansions. It wouldn't bother me to have some open-topped collapsible pockets on either side, for a water bottle or something similar, but that's a relatively minor quibble I can easily solve with a TACO or other modular pouch.

Hydration capacity is 3 liters, with 33 liters (2014 cubic inches) of storage space. It's sewn of 500D Cordura and has a padded shoulder harness and waist belt (that latter will tuck away).


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Eyes On Camelbak 100OZ Skirmish 3

It's hard to tell, but that's the shaped lumbar part of the Skirmish, above.

The Camelbak Skirmish ranges in price from an MSRP of $314.50 for the Coyote Tan version to $345.00 for MultiCam. Is it worth the price? I think so, thus far, but obviously that is entirely dependent on your intended use. If you're wanting something to hump a couple books to class or to carry your gym clothes, probably not. If you spend time in the field, do some back country wandering or something like that, then probably so.

I pretty much feel like someone rolled me up in a carpet and beat me with a mallet at the end of a day wearing a pack, usually hobbling back after a day in the field at about the speed of a Tim Conway character. Damn right it'd be worth the money for me.

Eyes On Camelbak 100OZ Skirmish 2

I'll report back in a few months after I get some use out of it and let you know if it holds up to my previous Camelbak experience or if it shits the bed.

More information here.


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